Scientology membership numbers are disputed. CNN reported in 2017, “The Church of Scientology says it has 10,000 churches, missions and groups operating in 167 countries, with 4.4 million more people signing up every year. Scholars say that, despite the global proliferation of church buildings, the membership numbers are much lower than the church claims, likely in the hundreds of thousands” (Scientology: What Exactly is it? By Dan Gilgoff and Tricia Escobedo, Wed. April 19, 2017, cnn.com). Some think the numbers are even lower. Los Angeles Magazine printed this in 2019, “The church is struggling with a dwindling flock and an increasingly negative reputation… According to Ortega (Tony Ortega, co-author of Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s Dangerous ‘Religion’ – B.H.). Scientology numbers peaked in the early ‘90’s with roughly 100,000 members worldwide, but membership has recently dipped to about 20,000. (A Scientology spokesperson vigorously denies this, claiming the church has ‘millions of parishioners in 167 nations, a third of whom are in the U.S.’)” (Scientology Is Looking Abroad For New Stars and Vulnerable Recruits by Hailey Eber, May 10, 2019, lamag.com). The numbers are disputed. What is not in dispute is that certain high profile people are a part of this organization, including: Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
1. L(afayette) Ron(ald) Hubbard (1911-1986).
a. Early Years
There are two versions of L. Ron Hubbard’s biography. The first, we’ll call the known facts. He was born in Tilden, Nebraska. He spent much of his childhood in Helena, Montana and Bremerton, Washington. He was an Eagle Scout (biographics.org; britannica.com; L. Ron Hubbard Dies of Stroke by Robert Linsey, Jan. 29, 1986, nytimes.com).
The second, we’ll call the Hubbard/Scientology version. In this version he was riding broncos by the age of three. He was a blood brother to a Blackfoot Indian Medicine man by the age of four. He had traveled more than a quarter of a million miles and traversed much of China and India by the age of nineteen. He had even entered the forbidden Tibetan lamaseries (Who Was L. Ron Hubbard? Scientologynews.org; The Untold Truth of L. Ron Hubbard by Nolen Moore, grunge.com; L. Ron Hubbard, gwern.net).
b. Adulthood (pre-Dianetics)
The known facts, we’ll set forth. He attended George Washington University in Washington D.C.. He studied civil engineering but dropped out after two years due to failing grades in 1932. He started writing pulp fiction at this time to earn a living. He was paid a penny per word. Today, he holds the Guinness record for the most published works by one author (1,084). His novel, Battlefield Earth, was made into a movie starring John Travolta (biographic.org; The Chilling Story of How Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard Rose to Power by Jason Guerrasia, April 1, 2015, businessinsider.com; Most Published Works by One Author, guinnessworldrecords.com).
He joined the Navy Reserves in 1941. He served until 1950, active duty until 1945. He was a Lieutenant. He never saw action (biographic.org; businessinsider.com; grunge.com).
The Scientology version has L. Ron Hubbard a war hero. He was partially blinded and made partially lame from injuries sustained in combat. He is said to have received 21 medals for his action during the war, including the Purple Heart. These things are denied by the Navy (Scientologynews.org; biographic.org; The Founder of Scientology Has One of the Strangest Navy Records Ever by Amanda Macias, April 7, 2015, businessinsider.com; Ron the “War Hero” – Hubbard’s Medals, Carnegie Mellon University, cs.cmu.edu).
Following the war, L. Ron Hubbard lived in California. He met Jack Parson, a member of Ordo Templi Orentis. This was an occult group led by Aleister Crowley. L.R.H. became a part of this group (biographic.org; grunge.com).
He later claimed that he had infiltrated this group on a secret mission for the U.S. Government. Unfortunately there is no record of this (gwern.net).
L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1950. It became a best-seller. Dianetics literally means “through mind.” “In Dianetics, Hubbard explained that phenomena known as ‘engrams’ (i.e. memories) were the cause of all psychological pain, which in turn harmed mental and physical health. He went on to claim that people could become ‘clear,’ achieving an exquisite state of clarity and mental liberation, by exorcising their engrams to an ‘auditor,’ or a listener acting as a therapist” (May 9, 1950, L. Ron Hubbard publishes “Dianetics,” history.com). [The above is a fairly good summary; however, Dianetics actually makes a distinction between “engrams” and “memories” (Dianetics © 1992 pp. 1-2, 87-88). Engrams are “a complete recording down to the last accurate detail of every perception present in a moment of partial or full ‘unconsciousness’” (ibid). Memories are stored in the analytical mind (p. 67). Engrams are stored in the reactive mind (p. 87 cf. 65). These engrams could be prenatal from things like mama sneezing or Junior bouncing on moma’s lap (pp. 187-188)]. L. Ron Hubbard suggests that 70% of man’s ailments are psychosomatic (Dianetics, p. 13, 131). Engrams are the source of psychosomatic illness (p. 100). Dianetics claims that it can clear you of psychosomatic illness. Some of the claims are incredible. Consider: “The common cold has been found to be psychosomatic. Clears do not get colds (p. 133). “ ‘Toothache’ is normally psychosomatic (p. 217). “At the present time, Dianetic research is scheduled to include cancer and diabetes. There are a number of reasons to suppose that there maybe engramic in cause, particularly malignant cancer” (p. 134). L. Ron Hubbard claimed to have cured himself of his war injuries through Dianetics (biographic.org).
In 1954, the Church of Scientology officially launched. Scientology is said to be “knowing how to know” (Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, p. 9). Dianetics had morphed into a religion. L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, Sarah Northrup, stated that this was for tax exemption (April 1, 2015, businessinsider.com).
Here is a summary of what Scientology supposedly teaches about man’s situation. Man pre-existed separate from our currently earthly bodies. 75 million years ago, there was a galactic ruler named Xenu. He had a problem. He ruled over 76 planets, including Earth (then known as Teegeeack). These planets were greatly over-populated, each on average having 178 billion inhabitants (thetans). He had a plan. The masses were summoned for a tax audit. When they showed up, they were drugged and frozen, placed on spaceships that looked like DC-8s but with rocket power instead of propellers, and flown to Earth. They were deposited in and around volcanos in the Canary and Hawaii islands. Hydrogen bombs were detonated vaporizing all. However, Xenu had set up electronic traps which caught these souls. They were forced to watch 3D motion pictures which reprogrammed them and created a new “reality.” These souls clustered in groups of a few thousand and implanted in bodies to live on this earth. Scientology suggests that we have forgotten our true identities, but that it can help free us from this bodily trap. Once freed, we will be able to fly around at will without our earthly bodies and no longer be limited by these bodies (Demystifying Scientology’s Fundamental Reality by Bob Minton, cs. cmu.edu. Clearing the Planet, Knowing Better, Youtube).
Reincarnation is clearly taught. “Each life while the preclear has been ‘with body’ is lived with a different basic team: the genetic being carries on through the evolutionary line… The Theta Being comes into the line from various quarters and each time usually enters an entirely different G.E. (Genetic Entity) line (Scientology: A History of Man, p. 12). One may have existed as a cell or part of a claim or jelly fish (pp. 20-ff). Understand that engrams may exist from previous incarnations (e.g. chapter 4).
4. David Miscavige (1960-present day)
L. Ron Hubbard died of a stroke in 1986. This led to David Miscavige becoming the church leader. Under his leadership the church received tax exemption status with the I.R.S. in 1993 (Scientology’s Puzzling Journey From Tax Rebel to Tax Exempt by Douglas Frantz, March 9, 1997, nytimes.com).